FaaS (Function as a service), one of the newer types of services offered to the industry, came along with the advancement of cloud architectures. This is known as Serverless Computing/Serverless Architecture. In simple terms, serverless architecture abstracts all layers except the application’s development. So, the developers can concentrate only on the business requirement development. Serverless offers event-driven services to trigger functions that are created in development environments and hosted by the cloud provider, usually holding a piece of business logic.
The serverless architecture allows for a particular kind of pricing. Cloud providers normally charge only for the execution of the code, providing a more cost-effective platform than their counterparts like Infrastructure as a Service(IaaS), Platform as a Service(PaaS). The low operating costs, a short time to market, increased process agility are the main reasons for serverless computing to become a popular architectural paradigm. From a developer perspective, faster development environment set up, easier operational management, and zero system administration are the boosting benefits. Serverless has cost-effective pricing based on resource consumption, usually divided as
- allocated resources such as memory, CPU or network
- the time the application functions run (including in millisecond intervals) and the number of executions.
The benefits of serverless architectures and their capabilities are explained below.
Scalability: A provider can guarantee that the functions deployed are available and that their services are resilient. so that users do not have to be concerned about scalability concerns.
High Availability: Through serverless computing, the ‘ servers ‘ themselves are deployed automatically in several availability zones, so that they are always available for the requests coming from across the globe.
Rapid Development & Deployment: Adopting serverless computing solutions such as AWS Lambda or Azure Functions can greatly reduce the cost of development. You can get rid of buying infrastructure, setting it up, capacity planning, deployment environment setup and maintaining the infrastructure, etc, tasks. Developers only need to focus on the business requirement to develop and deliver.
Agile Friendly: FaaS systems allow developers to focus on the code and make their product feature-rich through agile cycles of build, testing and releasing.
Finally, although serverless has many benefits, it also has some disadvantages as discussed below.
Cold Start: In the world of serverless computing, the functions are run when needed and thrown away when not needed. When needed the code of the function will be downloaded, starts a new container, bootstrap the code to start responding to the events. This phenomenon is called “Cold Start”. The length of the cold start introduces latency to your application.
Vendor lock-in: The cloud provider manages everything, so the developer or the client has no complete control of resource use and management. Lock-in can apply at the cloud providers API level. The way you call AWS Lambda or Google Functions into your serverless code may vary. Coupling your code too tightly to the APIs of a serverless vendor may make moving the code to another platform more challenging. There is another vendor lock-in where we are bounded to use only the services available with that cloud vendor. For example, AWS Lambda’s use of Kinesis as a source trigger for streaming the data. An organization that wants to use another streaming technology, like Apache Kafka, can’t use it on AWS Lambda.
Challenges with Unit testing and Integration testing: Serverless applications are hard to test due to the distributed nature. In a traditional development environment, developers tend to mock the services to perform the unit testing and have control of the services to perform integration testing. But, the same is not that easy with serverless applications. Due to this, it is important to invest time and effort during the serverless application design.
According to technology research firm Gartner, by 2022, serverless technology will be used by 10 percent of IT organizations. Based on Grand View Research’s perspective, the compound annual serverless growth rate is expected to be 26 percent ($19.84 billion) by 2025 in the long run.
Recently Cloud Native Computing Foundation initiated CloudEvents which is organized via the CNCF’s Serverless Working Group . With CloudEvents we can majorly address Vendor Lock-in issue. As per that, “CloudEvents, a specification (spec) for describing event data in a common way, eases event declaration and delivery across services, platforms, and beyond. In reaching v1.0 and moving to Incubation, the spec defines the common attributes of an event that facilitate interoperability, as well as how those attributes are transported from producer to consumer via some popular protocols. It also creates a stable foundation on top of which the community can build better tools for developing, running, and operating serverless and event-driven architectures. An increasing number of industry stakeholders have been actively contributing to the project, including AWS, Google, Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Red Hat, VMware, and more, cementing CNCF as the home of serverless collaboration for the leading technology companies around the world.”
In the coming article, we will see some Serverless examples. Till then, Happy Learning!!!